Real Madrid and FC Barcelona meet each other tonight at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in ‘El Clásico’ of Spanish football and also worldwide where all the stars face each other off.
The ‘Whites’ have the opportunity to put the title away definitely and the ‘Blaugranas’ to confirm the improvement both in their game and outcomes that can support their thought that they can still win this league that sounds crazy for many people. The end of the final part of the season will be certainly influenced by this game.
Real Madrid, a ‘Clásico’ as their chance to top off a perfect league:
The team coached by Ancelotti gets to this game with a very comfortable advantage of points towards their chasers and the opportunity to put the title away so they can fully focus on the Champions League upcoming quarter finals.
The Italian coach will be forced to make some new changes on his starting XI due to the absences of Mendy and Benzema. This way, Nacho is expected to start as the left back, while Casemiro will be back as a pure ‘5’ in the classic midfield along with Kroos and Modrić, and the usual wingers (Asensio and Vinicius) to play by a ‘9’ that will be a different one from the usual.
“FC Barcelona are not ruled out from the race for the title”
Carlo Ancelotti in the press conference
The numbers in LaLiga by the Frenchman striker (22 goals and 11 assists) prove that Real Madrid suffer a clear Karim-dependency in their offensive game, but Ancelotti will have to use one of his bench players between Mariano, Jović or even Gareth Bale.
In any case, Ancelotti will display his classic 4-3-3 system through a vertical and direct playing style based on quick possessions and counterattacks in order to disarm the expected dominance of the ball from Barcelona and fade their fictional and particular battle for the title away. Madrid have the Champions League quarter finals ahead of them and want to go to the international break with the title in their pocket to direct all their efforts to lift a new European championship.
FC Barcelona, a ‘Clásico’ as the barometer of their improvement:
It is clear that Barça have improved a lot since the arrival of Xavi. They have certainly recovered their identity in the game and the irruption from the young talents with Pedri as their leader plus the new signings from the winter transfer market have all completed a way more competitive roster than Koeman enjoyed of, but it is also way better coached.
Barça are back on track, but the euphoria from the club is sometimes excessive. The general thought is that they have joined the race for the title too late, as their are 15 points behind the leader before tonight’s game, which would end up being 9 points best case scenario with the hypotheticals wins versus Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano (pending game). A huge distance anyways.
“It is a perfect scenario to prove that we are in great shape at the moment”
Xavi Hernández in the press conference
It is true that Xavi has now lots of players to choose from and it totally seems that Barça will end up within the ‘top 4’ on the table, which must be their real goal. Furthermore, the game at the Bernabéu is a unique chance to confirm their progress in a big game and feed the illusion for competing until the end in a league that is meant to be white anyway.
Barça are on the right path to return to the excellence that has characterized them so much in history and the future in the short term is really encouraging based on what we are already seeing in the present, but we must be cautious as well and prioritize the measurement in games like tonight’s Clásico.
Main image: Edit José Manuel Calviño.
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